Слике страница
PDF
ePub

and then sailed to the northward. We are not told, in this letter, on what day he arrived there, nor on what day he doubled Icy Cape. Finding the ice to accumulate on the 14th October, he steered to the south. It may be fairly concluded he had more than two months of clear navigation in these seas, and we contend for the probability of a voyage being accomplished across the northern part of America in less than half that time from Icy Cape.

Captain Franklin found the sea at the mouth of Mackenzie's river open when he reached it on the 2d July, and sailed westward until the 15th August, having overcome half the distance to Icy Cape. No natural obstructions here compelled him to return. Uncertain whether the Blossom had been able to attain the place of rendezvous, he considered it his duty to preserve the lives of his followers by returning ; certain destruction awaiting them should any accident have happened to that ship. The coast from Icy Cape to Point Turnagain may now be considered as discovered, and if Captain Parry were to undertake a voyage round this cape, prepared as he was in his second voyage for wintering twice, we have no hesitation in declaring our belief, that a single voyage, and a simultaneous land expedition, would settle this long discussed and intensely interesting question. If the navigator could double Icy Cape early in August, he would have full two months at least to navigate the sea to the eastward. On the approach of winter he might take up his quarters in George 4th Coronation Gulf, and during the following summer various excursions could be made to Bank's Land, Melville Island, Cockburn Island, Melville Peninsula, and those interesting straits called Prince Regent's Inlet, and Strait of the Fury and Hecla. The over-land expedition should proceed from Wager River, or Chesterfield Inlet, to George 4th Coronation Gulf, a distance of not 600 miles. Should this land expedition be considered as too hazardous, in consequence of the possibility of there being arms of the sea stretching into the land, then it would be of great importance that two boats, such as Captain Franklin used in his late discoveries, should be despatched to finish the survey of the coast to that neck of land which forms Melville Peninsula. We believe that such a voyage as this could be easily accomplished, and the result would clear up that moot point, so long argued in favour of a north-west passage.

To extol the merit of Captain Parry at this time would be superfluous. It is sufficient to say, that the voyage of which we are about to give some account, is the fourth to the northern regions, of which that excellent and able officer has had the command: that he was second in command, in Ross's expedition, we have already mentioned. We have no hesitation in saying these voyages have been conducted in a more philosophic and masterly

manner, than any hitherto undertaken ; and their failure of complete success is to be attributed to obstructions which could not be foreseen by the mind of man. The first navigation of these seas can only be done by “ feeling the way.”

Capt. Parry having proposed to Lord Melville an expedition towards the North Pole, to be effected by travelling with sledgeboats over the ice, after they should reach in the ship the highest latitude unobstructed by the ice, it was referred to the President and Council of the Royal Society, “who strongly recommended its adoption.” The Hecla being accordingly prepared, Capt. Parry took his departure on the 4th of April, 1827, and on the 14th May arrived off Hakluyt’s Headland, the northern point of a small island, close to the western side of Spitzbergen. After meeting with dangerous obstructions from the floating ice, the ship reached latitude 81° 5' 32", the longitude being 19° 34' east. Depth of water, ninety-seven fathoms. The temperature of the water at ninety-five fathoms, was 29° 8', that at the surface 31°, and the air 28o. To the northward, nothing but loose drift-ice was seen, where they expected to find the flat, unbroken ice, particularly mentioned by Phipps. It being necessary to find a good harbour for the ship during the absence of the boats, they stood to the southward for Little Table Island, lying north of the Seven Islands. To the north of this island they discovered a “ little islet,” which was called after Lieutenant Ross. The boat was sent ashore here to look for shelter for the ship which it did not afford. “This islet consists of gneiss, having garnets imbedded in some specimens ; Mr. Beverly could not discover in what direction it dipped. This small rock, with specimens of which (as being the northernmost known land in the world,) the boat returned loaded, is about one hundred feet above the sea.”

It was not until the 19th of June, after almost despairing of success, that Capt. Parry was enabled to find a harbour on this inhospitable and frozen coast. On this day they warped into a cove in Treurenberg Bay, west side of Spitzbergen, which they called Hecla Cove, latitude 79° 55' 8" north, longitude 16° 48' 45" east. This success renewed their spirits, and the worthy commander says he cannot describe the satisfaction it gave to eveery individual on board. “The main object of our enterprise seemed now to be almost within our grasp.”

On the 22d, the party being prepared with two boats, underneath which runners were so fixed, as to render them easy to be drawn over the ice and snow, they received the usual salutation of three cheers from those they left behind, and departed for the north.

On the 23d, being stopped by the ice in 81° 12' 51", they were obliged to haul the boats upon "a small floe-piece ;” and here commenced their travelling on the ice; the plan of travel

ling being nearly the same during the whole excursion, we give Capt. Parry's own account of their mode of proceeding :

“It was my intention to travel wholly at night, and to rest by day, there being of course constant daylight in these regions during the summer season. The advantages of this plan, which was occasionally deranged by circumstances, consisted first, in our avoiding the intense and oppressive glare from the snow during the time of the sun's greatest altitude, so as to prevent, in some degree, the painful inflammation in the eyes, called “snow blindness," which is common in all snowy countries. We also thus enjoyed greater warmth during the hours of rest, and had a better chance of drying our clothes; besides which,

no small advantage was derived from the snow being harder at night for travelling. The only disadvan. tage of this plan was, that the fogs were somewhat more frequent and more thick by night than by day, though even in this respect, there was less difference than might have been supposed, the temperature during the twenty-four hours undergoing but little variation. This travelling by night and sleeping by day so completely inverted the natural order of things, that it was difficult

to persuade ourselves of the reality. Even the officers and myself, who were all furnished with pocket chronometers, could not always bear in mind at what part of the twenty-four hours we had arrived; and there were several of the men who declared, and I believe truly, that they never knew night from day during the whole excursion.

“ When we rose in the evening, we commenced our day by prayers, after which we took off our fur sleeping dresses, and put on those for travelling ; the former being made of camblet, lined with racoon-skin, and the latter of strong blue box cloth. We made a point of always putting on the same stockings and boots for travelling in, whether they had dried during the day or not; and I believe it was only in five or six instances, at the most, that they were not either still wet or hard frozen. This, indeed, was of no consequence, beyond the discomfort of first putting them on in this state, as they were sure to be thoroughly wet in a quarter of an hour after commencing our journey; while on the other band, it was of vital importance to keep dry things for sleeping in. Being 'rigged,' for travelling, we breakfasted upon warm cocoa and biscuit, and after stowing the things in the boats and on the sledges, so as to secure them, as much as possible, from wet, we set off on our day's journey, and usually travelled from five, to five and a half hours, then stopped an hour to dine, and again travelled four, five and even six hours, according to circumstances. After this we halted for the night, as we called it, though it was usually early in the morning, selecting the largest surface of ice we happened to be near, for hauling the boats on, in order to avoid the danger of its breaking up by coming in contact with other masses, and also to prevent drift as much as possible. The boats were placed close along side each other, with their sterns to the wind, the snow or wet cleared out of them, and the sails, supported by the bamboo masts and three paddles, placed over them as awnings, an entrance being left at the bow. Every man then immediately put on dry stockings and fur coats, after which we set about the necessary repairs of boats, sledges, or clothes; and, after serving the provisions for the succeeding day, we went to supper. Most of the officers and men then smoked their pipes, which served to dry the boats and awnings very much, and usually raised the temperature of our lodgings 10° or 15o. This part of the twenty-four hours was often a time, and the only one, of real enjoyment to us; the men told their stories and “fought all their battles o'er again," and the labours of the day, unsuccessful as they too often were, were forgotten. A regular watch was set during our resting time, to look out for bears, or for the ice breaking up around us, as well as to attend to the drying of the clothes, each man alternately taking this duty for one hour. We then concluded our day with prayers, and having put on our fur dresses, lay down to sleep with a degree of comfort, which perhaps few persons would imagine possible under such circumstances; our chief inconvenience being, that we were somewhat pinched for room, and therefore obliged to stow rather closer than was quite agreeable. The temperature, while we slept, was usually from 36° to 45°, according to the state of the ester: nal atmosphere ; but on one or two occasions, in calm and warm weather, it rose as high as 60° to 66°, obliging us to throw off a part of our fur dress. After we had slept seven hours, the man appointed to boil the cocoa roused us, when it was ready, by the sound of a bugle, when we commenced our day in the manner before described. “Our allowance of provisions for each man per day, was as follows :Biscuit

10 ounces. Pemmican

9 Sweetened Cocoa Powder

1 to make 1 pint. Rum

1 gill. Tobacco

3 ounces per week. “Our fuel consisted entirely of spirits of wine, of which two pints formed our daily allowance, the cocoa being cooked in an iron boiler over a shallow iron lamp, with seven wicks; a simple apparatus, which answered our purpose remarkably well. We usually found one pint of the spirits of wine sufficient for preparing our breakfast, that is for heating twenty-eight pints of water, though it always commenced from the temperature of 32°. If the weather was calm and fair, this quantity of fuel brought it to the boiling point in about an hour and a quarter ; but more generally the wicks begin to go out before it has reached 200°. This, however, made a very comfortable meal to persons situated as we were. Such, with very little variation, was our regular routine during the whole of this excursion."

In this manner they advanced with the greatest labour, meeting frequently with obstacles and difficulties that could not have been anticipated. So early as the 26th June, they had experienced more rain than during the whole of seven previous summers taken together, though passed in latitudes from 70 to 15° lower than this. On the 4th of July he says

“The rain had produced even a greater effect than the sun, in softening the snow. Lieutenant Ross and myself, in performing our pioneering duty, were frequently so beset in it, that sometimes, after trying in vain to extricate our legs, we were obliged to sit quietly down for a short time to rest ourselves, and then make another attempt ; and the men, in dragging the sledges, were often under the necessity of crawling upon all-fours, to make any progress at all. Nor would any kind of snow-shoes have been of the least service, but rather an incumbrance to us, for the surface was so irregular, that they would have thrown us down at every step. We had hitherto made use of the Lapland shoes or kamoogas, for walking in, which are excellent for dry snow, but there being now so much water on the ice, we substituted the Esquimaux boots, which had been made in Greenland expressly for our use, and wbich are far superior to any other for this kind of travelling. Just before halting, at six, A. M., on the 5th, the ice at the margin of the floe broke, while the men were handing the provisions out of the boats ; and we narrowly escaped the loss of a bag of cocoa, which felloverboard, but fortunately rested on a 'tongue.' The bag being made of Mackintosh's water-proof canvass, the cocoa did not suffer the slightest injury."

The danger they were constantly in from the ice, may be imagined from the description of their crossing some of the floes.

“In crossing from mass to mass, several of which were separated about half the length of our sledges, the officers were stationed at the most difficult places, to see that no precaution was omitted, which could ensure the safety of the provisions. Only one individual was allowed to jump over at a time, or to stand near either margin, for fear of the weight being too great for it; and when three or four men had separately crossed, the sledge was cautiously drawn up to the

le by a solution of caoutchouc placed between two pieces of canvass.

edge, and the word being given, the men suddenly ran away with the ropes, so as to allow no time for its falling in, if the ice should break. In one or two instances this day, we were obliged to have recourse to the still more hazardous expedient of ferrying all our provisions across a narrow pool of water upon a small piece of ice, the situation being such that our boats could not be thus made use of. Wherever the boats could possibly be hauled across with the provisions in them, we preferred this as a safer mode of proceeding ; but this very precaution bad nearly cost us dear to-day, for while we were thus dragging one of them along, the ice on which she rested began to sink, and then turned over on one side, almost upsetting the boat with the provisions in her. However, a number of the men jumped upon the ice, with great activity, in order to restore its balance, by their weight, and having cautiously unloaded and hauled her back, we got her over in another place. Having at length succeeded in reaching a small foe, we halted at half past six, A. M., much wearied by nearly eleven hours' exertion, by which we had only advanced three miles and a half in a N. N. W. direction."

The party frequently had the mortification of finding, after labouring for hours without intermission, that the currents from the north, had taken them as fast to the southward as they were able to travel to the northward, and thus like the ox labouring in the wheel, they found themselves, at the end of a fatiguing day's labour, just at the spot whence they set out in the morning. On the 26th July, in latitude 82° 40' 23", they were more than three miles to the southward of their last observation, at midnight on the 22d, after having used every effort to overcome the difficulties that presented themselves. It had now become too evident, that even the parallel of 83°, near to it as they were, could not be reached. Having pushed on to the northward for thirty-five days, and having expended half their resources, it became absolutely necessary to turn to the southward, which they did on the 27th, after a day's rest.

The highest latitude they reached, was about 7 o'clock on the 230 July, “ a little beyond 82° 45'." No bottom was found with a line of five hundred fathoms; the specific gravity of the water at that depth was 1.0340, being at the temperature of 37o when weighed. Six's thermometer failed to indicate the temperature at this depth, owing to the mercury rising past the index.

“At the extreme point of our journey, our distance from the Hecla was only 172 miles in a S. 8° W. direction. To accomplish this distance we had traversed, by our reckoning, two hundred and ninety-two miles, of which about one hundred were performed by water, previously to our entering the ice. As we travelled by far the greater part of our distance on the ice, three, and not upfre. quently five times over, we may safely multiply the length of the road by two and a half; so that our whole distance, on a very moderate calculation, amounted to five hundred and eighty geographical, or six hundred and sixty-eight statute miles, being nearly sufficient to have reached the pole in a direct linc. Up to this period we had been particularly fortunate in the preservation of our health ; neither sickness nor casualties having occurred amongst us, with the exception of the trifling accidents already mentioned, a few bowel complaints which were soon removed by care, and some rather troublesome cases of chilblains, arising from our constant exposure to wet and cold.”

On the 11th August, they finally quitted the ice, having been on it for forty-eight days, and on the 12th landed on the rock,

« ПретходнаНастави »